Texting reaches 20th anniversary

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Over 150 billion SMS text messages are now sent each year in the UK 

The mobile industry today celebrated the 20th anniversary of the arrival of the world’s first text message on a mobile phone.

On December 3 1992 the first SMS text message was sent from a PC to a Vodafone employee’s handset reading ‘Merry Christmas’. Since then the service has grown into one of the most widely used methods of communication in the world.

According to figures from OfCom 90 per cent of 16-24 year olds send text messages on a daily basis, with girls of between 12 and 15 the most prolific texters, sending an average of 221 messages per week.

Ofcom director of research James Thickett said although traditional SMS volumes are beginning to decline its legacy will continue to be seen in the way people use instant messaging and social network websites on their mobile phones.

“When texting was first conceived many saw it as nothing more than a niche service,” Thickett said. “But texts have now surpassed traditional phone calls and meeting face to face as the most frequent way of keeping in touch for UK adults, revolutionising the way we socialise, work and network.

“For the first time in the history of mobile phones, SMS volumes are showing signs of decline. However the availability of a wider range of communications tools like instant messaging and social networking sites, mean that people might be sending fewer SMS messages, but they are ‘texting’ more than ever before.”

According to the regulator there were 77.6 billion text messages sent in the UK during the first half of this year and annually message volumes are over 150 billion.

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